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What is a Bone-Conduction Test?

What is a Bone-Conduction Test?

Bone-conduction testing is very similar to that of air conduction testing in that they are both delivering pure tones to the patient, but through different means. Air conduction tests deliver the pure tone sound through headphones or earbuds while bone-conduction tests are delivered through what is called a bone oscillator. A bone oscillator is a small square box on the end of a metal headband. This hearing test, along with the air conduction test results, can tell the hearing health professional about the type and severity of a patients hearing loss.

What to expect

The hearing health professional will go into the sound booth that the patient is still in after the air conduction testing has been completed and will change equipment. They will remove the headphones and replace them with the bone oscillator. The headband of the bone oscillator is placed over the patients head and the oscillator is placed behind the patient’s ear on the bone right behind the ear, the mastoid bone. It should be noted that if earbuds are being used most times the hearing health professional will keep them in the patient’s ears and place the oscillator in place for this test; having the earbuds in will not compromise the bone-conduction test in any way due how the bone-conduction test is delivered to the patient.

Conducting the test

Once the oscillator is in place the hearing health professional will once again go over the instructions with the patient; press the button or raise your hand when you hear a tone. A series of tones will once again be presented to the patient at different volumes in each ear to determine whether or not there is a hearing loss present. As the test is performed the hearing health professional will record the results on the audiogram.

The bone-conduction test is very interesting. The sound is delivered to the inner ear through the mastoid bone. This by-passes the outer and middle ear showing the hearing health professional whether a conductive or sensorineural hearing loss is present; meaning is there damage only to the inner ear or damage to something in the outer or middle ear.

If you feel anxious, nervous or confused during any process of the testing, be sure to inform your hearing care provider. A bone-conduction test is non-invasive and shouldn’t be painful or uncomfortable. Additionally, ask any questions you may have before or after the testing takes place to have a complete understanding of the process.